Hardcover, 387 pages.
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. –publisher’s comments
I am sometimes frustrated by an author’s choice to re-imagine a classic fairytale, but Marissa Meyer’s decision to transport Cinderella into a futuristic city and turn the protagonist into a cyborg was brilliant. The marketplace where Cinder sets up shop brought a more arid Blade Runner to mind, which follows with the adorable image of Firefly’s Kaylee with grease and a blush on her face. Flitting images before Meyers makes all images and references (intentional or no) her own. The hook of the premise and the promise of that red-glass slipper on the cover catches and does not disappoint.
Meyer envisions a future-other place where fairytale magic has scientific leanings. The science fiction is fun, and it pleases me to see this female author stitching it into the fabric of a cinderella-cyborg. The possible resides alongside the impossible in a cyborg and how comfortably this sort of conflicts fit into the story of Cinderella. She is, in so many ways, an impossible girl who is so terribly probable as to be painful for the reader. She loves someone out of her league, someone who really mustn’t love her in return if he knows what is good for him. She is alien within her own family, and community. She is hard-work going no where. She is beauty (read potential) wasted or enslaved for small purpose.
A big shift is not content with a usual feminist revision, but in revisiting the possibility of origins. And why do we not ever think about Cinderella’s mother? Especially when the idea of the father comes across more the doting uncle in some ways… The mysteries Cinder sets up aren’t terribly hard, but the adventure is where the read finds its entertainment anyway.* What will Cinder do now or next? But for the extraordinary time spent on the “pumpkin” (however necessary), Cinder maneuvers pieces into place and pages click along.
Lines from the classic tale epigraph sections and in a way refocus and anticipate coming events. Not that Cinder remains all that anticipatory for long (thus the refocus). The bigger bones of the story are there, but plenty of the elements are either new or skewed marvelously.
The Stepmother is fabulously evil. And the Lunar figures are appropriately strange and creepy. The prince always shifted to a Miyazaki-princeling every time he showed up—much to my delight. Meyers gifts enough to flesh and clothe her characters, while allowing us the pleasure of wanting to see them continue into the sequel. A sequel in these endless teen/young adult series’ that I am actually interested in pursuing.
Marissa Meyer writes a highly entertaining adventure in Cinder with a heroine increasingly equipped into a figure that has me curious where Meyer is taking her. I am equally invested in this very intriguing quandary of Prince Kai’s (talk about revisionist’s play). The next book, Scarlet, visits Red Riding Hood and I do feel a bit anxious** about this—must say something about Cinder that I’m going to read it anyway.
recommendations: mg+; those who like a good visit w/ classic tales, futures w/ a tasteful salting of genetic engineering and dystopic murmurings, sci-fi talk midst a faerie-lore sensibility.
*feels like a young teen read through and through—wish I’d had this to read at N’s age. btw, this is a good thing.
*there are some great readings/tellings of Red Riding Hood, where might Meyers go with it?